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All Education Commentary

For the Sake of Working-Class Students, Give ‘Fisher’ Another Chance

TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg, who has written extensively on reforming the higher education system, encourages the U.S. Supreme Court to accept an appeal made by Abigail Noel Fisher in the Fisher v. University of Texas litigation challenging UT-Austin’s affirmative-action policies. Kahlenberg champions the use of class instead of race as a means of encouraging a diverse student body on college campuses.

In the Fisher decision, the court said the 14th Amendment of the Constitution placed on universities "the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice." The justices then sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit to apply this standard.

Read Kahlenberg's entire article featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tags: race-based affirmative action, higher education, diversity in education, college admissions, class-based affirmative action

Economic Inequality Goes to College

TCF senior fellow and education expert Richard Kahlenberg was featured on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook where he spoke about how the American college education system is becoming increasingly the poster child of the affluent class. Listen to him speaking on the issue:


Tags: npr, economic inequality, diversity in education, college education

Cornell Professor Explores Education, Politics and Inequality

TCF fellow and Cornell professor of politics Suzanne Mettler recently presented her research findings on the effects of higher education at a University of Massachusetts lecture series titled, "Perspectives on Inequality." Mettler shares that she discovered the high drop out rate of college students is due to the inability to pay tuition and falling grades as a result of working long hours at a job instead of studying.

“The big problem with policy maintenance is partisan politicization,” she said. This leads to stalemates around higher education policy, Mettler said. When politicians do reach across the aisle and work together in higher education policy, they are often responding to the needs of large interests like corporations, not the American people, she said.

“Today, we’re spending more than ever, but we’re not spending it in ways that mitigate inequality,” she said.

Read the review of Mettler's talk.

Tags: policy makers, income inequality, higher education, graduation rates

The End of College?

Kevin Carey's new book The End of College takes a close look at America's flawed higher education business model. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Carey cites the ideas of TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a vocal advocate against university policies that often benefit America's wealthier students.

As Rick Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution "was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege." Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later.

Check out the rest of the interview at Inside Higher Ed.

Tags: wealthy, richard kahlenberg, higher education, college admissions

Legacy Status Tips Admission Scales

Many top universities admit a sizeable percentage of their student body on the basis of those students receiving "legacy preference." TCF fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a longtime critic of the practice, commented on legacy admissions, pointing out its flaws and the fundamental unfairness of the system.

In an op-ed in The New York Times in May 2013 titled “Affirmative Action for the Rich,” Kahlenberg voiced his opposition to the policy, decrying it as inherently “un-American” and particularly privileging affluent families.

“In other walks of life, we would consider it absurd to add points to a candidate’s application based on lineage, and legacies in higher education may soon come to an end as well,” Kahlenberg wrote in the op-ed.

Read more on what Kahlenberg had to say about the practice that he's called "affirmative action for the rich" in The Hoya.

Tags: richard kahlenberg, legacy admissions, college students, affirmative action for the rich, affirmative action, admissions

Fewer College Grads? Blame Politicians, Professor Says

TCF fellow and Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler spoke with Don Marsh of St. Louis Public Radio on the rates at which young adults are finishing their degrees and how those rates have changed over the past few decades. She says that "political squabbling" is to blame for impeding progress that Congress could have made in terms of student loan policy and improving access overall to higher education.

More students than ever go to college, but it’s only those who come from the top quarter of the income spectrum who are very likely to finish their degree within six years — by age 24,” she said. “For people in the bottom 75 percent, the results are very poor and they’ve hardly increased since the 1970s.

Listen to Mettler's discussion and read the rest of the commentary here.

Tags: student loans, student debt, college tuition, college graduation




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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